What is Medical Malpractice?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Jun 13, 2017 in Medical Malpractice

doctor consoling upset patientMedical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm, injury or death because a medical professional or provider failed to provide the appropriate care or treatment.

Individuals who have experienced this may be entitled to file a claim for compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.

However, these are complex lawsuits that are best handled by an accomplished Phoenix medical malpractice attorney. With decades of experience handling these types of cases, our attorneys can walk you through the elements detailed below and help you determine if you have a medical malpractice case.

Elements of Medical Malpractice

In Arizona, medical malpractice claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, which requires proving that a medical professional or provider failed to follow the accepted standards of care of the medical industry.

Arizona Statute § 12-563 requires proof that the medical professional failed to act as others would have, which directly caused your injuries.

The key elements for proving negligence in a medical malpractice case include: 

Doctor-Patient Relationship

We must first show that you had a relationship with your doctor or other medical professional. This is generally established during your first appointment with your doctor.

The practitioner must agree to treat you and explain the method he or she will use during treatment. This relationship also establishes the doctor’s professional obligation to provide appropriate care and treatment.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must demonstrate that your treating practitioner breached his or her duty to provide quality treatment and care.

A breach of duty means the treatment you received fell below the standards expected in the medical community. In other words, the doctor failed to act or provide the level of care that others with the same training and experience would have under the same circumstances.

Causation

We must next prove the medical practitioner’s breach of duty caused your injury or worsened your condition.

This is one of the most difficult elements to prove, as the other party and its insurance provider will fight to prove that something other than the at-fault party’s actions caused your injuries. They may claim that you did not follow the doctors’ orders or that something else caused your injuries.

We will work to gather the evidence to show that your injuries or worsened condition would not have occurred if you had visited another professional or received the appropriate care.

You Suffered Damages

The final step to proving medical malpractice is showing that you suffered some form of damage or loss as a result of the doctor’s breach of duty.

You must prove that the doctor’s negligence harmed you in some way, whether physically, financially, emotionally or psychologically.

This can include physical pain, bills from additional medical procedures, mental anguish, lost time at work and more.

Comparative Negligence in Medical Malpractice Claims

Arizona uses the rule of comparative negligence to determine liability in personal injury cases, like medical malpractice.

Under this rule, the court will examine and compare the negligence of all parties to determine whose actions contributed to the injury. Each party will be assigned a percentage of fault.

If you are found to be partially at fault for your injury, your compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, if you developed an infection after receiving substandard care from a doctor, it is expected that you will seek treatment as soon as possible. However, if you wait to seek medical care and the infection worsens, a court may find you partially liable for your present condition.

If your claim was originally worth $10,000 in damages but a court finds that you are 40 percent responsible for your current condition, it will be reduced by $4,000. The new maximum amount of damages you can recover is $6,000.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

A medical malpractice claim in Arizona can only be brought against a licensed health care provider, according to AZ Stat § 12-561.

A licensed health care provider is considered a person, corporation or institution certified by the state to provide health care, medical services, nursing services or other health-related services, such as:

  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Technicians
  • Hospitals
  • Employees of health care providers, acting within their scope of employment
  • Blood banks, blood centers and plasma collection centers

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

In Arizona, medical malpractice claims have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the procedure that injured or worsened your condition.

However, there are certain exceptions that may alter Arizona’s statute of limitations by extending or decreasing the time you have to bring a claim.

Delayed Diagnosis of Conditions

The statute of limitations might be extended if your injury or condition was not immediately apparent.

In this situation, the rule of discovery would apply and will delay the starting date of your deadline to file a claim.

The statute of limitations would begin on the date in which the injury or condition is discovered, or should have been discovered through exercising reasonable care.

Medical Malpractice Involving a Minor

If a victim of medical malpractice is a minor under the age of 18, the statute of limitations will begin on the day the victim turns 18 years old.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys

The Phillips Law Group’s medical malpractice lawyers possess the skills needed to represent claims of medical negligence.

We will work to protect your interests while holding the medical practitioner that caused your injury accountable for his or her negligence.

Our medical malpractice attorneys accept claims based on a contingency fee basis, which means we only accept payment for our services after we secure compensation for you.

Do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation legal consultation to review your claim.

Call or text 1-800-706-3000 to reach our medical malpractice attorneys.

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